Last night at Bar Nana in New York’s Meat Packing District, I had the opportunity to interview the starting right tackle for the Giants, Justin Pugh. Pugh was endorsing Conair’s 2-Blade All-in-One Trimmer that was on display last night. Pugh was extremely kind to us and lent us a few minutes to talk about his jump to the NFL and his thoughts on New York’s chances of making the playoffs.
Q. Injuries early in the season plagued the offensive line. How effective will the blocking be going forward with a more cohesive unit that plays together week to week?
A. As you saw last week (against the Raiders) we had a much more productive game. Our yards per carry were better than they had been in past weeks. Having an aggressive running attack and running the ball 30-35 times a game wears a defense out. At the end of the game we were able to put together that four minute drive and picked up those hard yards when we needed them.
Q. How much does it help having Andre Brown back in the lineup, knowing every week he is going to be the starting runningback?
A. Brown is a workhorse. He has that ability to make those split second reads and cuts to openings in the line. And on top of that he has the strength to break tackles and get those extra yards.
Q. How has the jump from college to the NFL been for you, in terms of the speed of the game, play calls and the schemes that are run in the pros?
A. I’m definitely not going to say it was easy. There is such a large volume of playcalls to learn when you first come in that it can be overwhelming. Also my concussion at the beginning of the season cost me some time when I could have been learning and honing my craft. The guys in the NFL execute at such a high level. In college there are still other concerns, such as schoolwork, whereas in the NFL the sole focus is on football. The professional’s techniques are always perfect. If you slip up once you will get beat. They are always in the right place at the right time. And off the field you realize that it’s all business. If you’re not coming along, you’re not going to be here.
Q. You mentioned how businesslike the NFL is. Is it eyeopening to see veterans like Ed Reed who were just cut this afternoon?
A. Yeah, I came into the season with 15 rookies, including the undrafted guys and now there are only six still here. You build camaraderie with everyone, but you have to remember that no one is immune to getting cut. Everyone is vulnerable.
Q. Every week you have the opportunity to practice against veterans like Justin Tuck and JPP. How much does that help your growth and development?
A. Tuck is great to practice against. If you are doing something wrong with your technique he will exploit that. He teaches you by the way he plays against you. He has really been great help.
Q. So Tuck is not shy about giving you pointers?
A. Absolutely. He is on the same team and he wants to win. Justin will tell me how I should do x y and z, so that I can better myself.
Q. Now you have a three wins under your belt. Are you confident as a group that you could put this season together and make a push to the playoffs?
A. I don’t think you can say that. Our focus is on the Green Bay Packers. We will have to take it one game at a time and let the chips fall where they may.